Titans back on top in girls’ hockey

The initials BT now have an added meaning at Bishop Tonnos Catholic Secondary School. But thanks to their girls’ hockey team, BT could also be short for Back on Top.

The Bishop Tonnos Titans edged the St. Thomas More Knights 2-1 at Morgan Firestone Arena Tuesday (Feb. 26) to capture the 2013 Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association girls’ hockey championship.

It’s a return to glory for the Titans, winners of four straight league titles from 2008-11. A 3-2 loss to St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves in the final last season snapped the streak.

The Bishop Tonnos Titans show off their trophy after capturing the 2013 HWCAA girls’ hockey championship.
(Photo: Lauren Cavarzan)

“It’s great for the school,” Tonnos coach Dino Cavarzan said. “The kids work very hard. We’ve had a great program for the past seven years.”

During that period, the Titans also brought home two silver and two bronze medals from tournaments staged by the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations.

The first-place Titans (10-1-1) trailed 1-0 at the end of the first period against the second-place Knights (8-3-1). A brilliant rink-length dash and deke by Grade 10 forward Sarah Hine produced the opening goal. She’s widely regarded as one of the most talented players in the league.

In the second period, however, defenceman Devon Morrison keyed the comeback with a couple of shots from the point 27 seconds apart during the final three minutes. Both scoring plays involved a wrist shot by Morrison from the same spot just inside the Knights’ blueline. On the first, the four-year Titans veteran got credit for the goal. “It had eyes,” Cavarzan said of the shot. Then, on what proved to be the winning goal, her shot was stopped by goaltender Emily Coles before Marissa Almeida pounced on the rebound to knock it in. Said Cavarzan: “We were getting our players to the net. When you’re down, you’ve got to do that. We found the puck and were able to slide it in.”

The Knights had a few dangerous scoring opportunities in the final minutes, but Titans goaltender Mary Stewart held her ground.

St. Thomas More, which split a pair of games against Tonnos during the regular schedule, last won a HWCAA girls’ hockey crown in 1999.

“I think we just ran out of gas,” said Trevor Young who combines with his sister Amanda to coach the Knights. “We came out hard and played great in the first period. We didn’t have a deep bench, so we couldn’t rest the girls. I’m not taking anything away from Tonnos, though. They played very well.

“Overall, we had a great season. When we had our first meeting, only six people showed up. To come from that and be one goal away from a championship is impressive.”

Other members of the Titans are defencemen Kate Randazzo, Lauren Cavarzan and Alesya DePellegrin. The rest of the forwards are Emilee Paron, Anita Paone, Jade Mancini, Catherine Ciapolla, Adrianna Stanidis, Chiara Forcelli and Samantha Lombardi.

All but one of the Titans also plays for an outside club team. However, according to the comments overheard by Cavarzan in the dressing room, winning a high school championship was thrilling and very important to his players. A large and supportive crowd in the stands — from both schools — added to the excitement.

“They will remember this for the rest of their lives,” Cavarzan said. “Coming into this game, the players were saying how nervous they were and that they don’t get as nervous playing in their club leagues.”

Morrison said the atmosphere in the building was incredible. “This was the best we’ve ever seen,” she said. “We really appreciate it. It got us pumped.”

A member of the Stoney Creek Junior Sabres, Morrison said winning a high school championship is different from the club level where age restrictions apply.

“It means everything to us,” Morrison said of the HWCAA title. “In high school, you play for a common spirit, or goal. We wanted to win for ourselves and for the school — all the girls before us.

“There are different ages of players in high school. You’re kind of thrown together. You’ve got to make it work. When all of a sudden everything clicks, it feels good.”

Tonnos will advance to the Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference final on Monday March 4 against a Halton representative. Game time at Morgan Firestone Arena is 2 p.m.

In girls’ volleyball action, the Bishop Ryan Celtics lost 3-0 (25-17, 25-23, 25-19) to the defending provincial champion Assumption Crusaders of Burlington at the Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference Triple A playoffs. Despite the result, Bishop Ryan has qualified for the OFSAA tournament next week in Windsor.